Outside In – Day 1- Change

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by Marc Piane

The trail meandered slowly up the rolling mountain. I could feel the air getting less humid as I ascended the trail. This was welcome because the humid air in the valley was thick. The spotty clouds had broken and the sun shone brightly in the sky. My brief rest had energized me for the last leg of my hike but also put me in the mood to ponder.

Change is the only constant. That adage kept rolling through my head as I made my way up the trail. It is an age old cliché and one that almost made me crack a smile at the cheese level but those five short words have so much meaning. Spending time in nature always brings that thought to the surface. As a snapshot, nature is a noun. It is a generic smattering of trees, mountains, rivers, lakes, clouds, and an occasional animal. Experiencing nature is to see it as a verb. A constant act of doing. My brief time listening and noticing reminded me of that. For a time the observer and the observed were one.

I started to think about how this applies to life in general. In city life there is constant bustle and it is easy to see the change all around us. Maybe it is because of the head down approach to urban living or maybe it can be seen as ego getting in the way or maybe it is the comfort we get from sameness but we don’t notice that change. In fact, we get frustrated by it. We take the exact train everyday and if it is late it is tantamount to the world crumbling around us. We go to our favorite restaurant and order the same thing. We even follow the exact same route if we are walking or driving somewhere. There is comfort in sameness.

In change there is an uncomfortable feeling. A feeling of flux, of not knowing. Change takes more energy. There is also an exhilaration. Like jumping out of a plane with only your experience as a parachute.

I had been so lost in thought that I did not notice that I had almost reached the top of the rolling mountain. There was a trail the followed the crest. From my vantage point just off the top I could also see that there was a small man-made shelter at the place where the trail I was on met the trail along the crest. The foliage had definitely changed as I hiked up the mountain. In the valley it was mostly deciduous trees. Up here it was mostly pine trees. The pine scent was refreshing.

I reached the top and came up to the shelter. It was modest but sturdy. Brick shithouse sturdy.  It was a short building, maybe just over 6 feet at it’s highest. It was made of mortared together river rock and flag stone for three walls and a chain link fence for the fourth; to keep the bears out. The roof was wood shakes. It had a small chimney and fire pit and two wooden bunk beds.

It was definitely minimal but it would save me having to pitch my tent. The temperature had started to drop as the sun sat low in the sky. I knew sleeping outside would be cold. This would be perfect.

I opened the chain link door and walked in. I could see as I walked up that it was not occupied. If someone came along I’d gladly share with them.

I leaned my pack against the wall and went out for a short walk to find some fire wood.